As we celebrate Women’s Month, iContact BPO asked some of our ladies to share their experiences and insights of what it’s like working in South Africa’s BPO sector. They also shared their advice for young women looking to unlock opportunities and build their careers in this burgeoning industry that’s making big waves on the global front…
Karabo Hlelesi, Manager: Management Information, iContact BPO
“In my role, I get to work with and develop business insights based on process and data analysis, systems and business analytics. In short, the decisions we make in the business are informed by the analysis and information I provide. It’s challenging, which I love as I really get to stretch my mind and learn new things.
As a woman in the IT and mathematical space, Karabo has experienced her fair shar e of being overlooked and undermined in what is typically a very male-dominated field. “In my previous roles, I found that as a woman, you had to work a lot harder to be recognised and respected and break through the many prejudices and unconscious gender bias that exists in the tech field. iContact BPO broke this mould entirely and entrusted a woman to initiate a new and important department in the business. I was headhunted for the position and I am incredibly excited about what lies ahead.”
As for a career in South Africa’s BPO industry, many people have a myopic view of what it entails. The reality is that there are so many roles in this sector and real opportunity for women to build meaningful careers and progress. I think one of the things that really motivated me to join iContact BPO is how they understood me when I mentioned that above all things, I want to be relevant in the company and make a meaningful difference. This was a key factor in me deciding to join the business,” says Karabo.
When it comes to empowering women and career building, Karabo believes that the BPO industry is unsurpassed in terms of opportunity. “There’s a term – ‘career entrepreneurship’ – and it is so applicable in the BPO space. This is an industry where you can drive and shape your career in so many facets and fields, and it’s an industry where the gender glass ceilings experienced in so many corporate environments just don’t feature. On average, 70% of the BPO workforce is women, and the opportunities to diversify skills and knowledge is unlike any other industry. The biggest plus is the skills versatility – what you learn in this business is applicable to and important in virtually every industry and profession. I believe the most important aspect women need to seize upon, is to have a ‘can do’ attitude, and not to allow themselves to be limited by the views and prejudices of others. Use every experience – good and bad – as a learning opportunity. The BPO industry in South Africa is growing at a rapid pace and making big waves in international markets – the career opportunities for women are many and diverse,” concludes Karabo.
Samukelisiwe Jacqueline Mathetha, Human Resources Manager, iContact BPO
“As we celebrate Women’s month, I am reminded of the significant role the BPO industry plays in empowering women – mothers, sisters, daughters, caregivers, sole breadwinners – we’re all finding meaningful and fulfilling career opportunities in an industry where you can grow and develop as far as your drive and ambition takes you. What I love most about the BPO sector, is that whether you arrive here with a degree and years of experience behind you, or with a matric qualification and a great attitude, there is always an opportunity to grow and progress.
“This is an industry that looks for people with the right attitude and aptitude – these are things that cannot be taught. For all the rest, there’s intensive and regular training that leads to all round professional development and there is opportunity to specialise in specific industries and business services,” says Samukelisiwe.
For young women who may be entering the BPO industry and wondering whether it will provide them with the opportunities that they seek in life, the BPO world really is a veritable oyster. It’s an industry where a good work ethic, drive, enthusiasm and ambition are valued. The growth and learning opportunities in the industry are endless – in fact ongoing coaching and training are expected and readily provided.
“And in a business like iContact BPO, we get to work with international clients which is an incredible opportunity to experience business practices and cultures from across the globe. When you work in BPO, you become a global citizen. You may be based in South Africa, but you’re actually serving clients in the US, Canada, Australia and many more countries. Right now, the BPO sector is South Africa’s fastest growing export and sits at the heart of our economic and social development. If I had to give young women any advice, it would be to remove any preconceived ideas they may have about this industry, and to grab the opportunity with both hands and be part of a winning growth industry with international exposure,” adds Samukelisiwe.
Noluthando Mdlankomo, Campaign Manager, iContact BPO
“As campaign manager, my role is to ensure the smooth operations of our campaign programmes so that we achieve our best operational efficiency and productivity and in turn, the best outcomes for our clients. It’s all about monitoring, listening, probing and identifying areas for improvement – in fact it’s a role where I never stop learning,” says Noluthando.
“I love the fact there is so much collaboration between people from many different departments to gather the business insights, and then we take those insights to build and execute strategies. I get a real kick out of working with different role players in our business and nurturing these relationships. The best part is when the plan all comes together – when we work to remove obstacles, when we fine-tune processes and solve problems together, or simply just motivate each other to push harder. I get inspired when I see the look on the faces of my team members when they realise what a privilege it is to be part of something that’s so much bigger than just our own individual roles – and how we achieve so much when we work together, not just for our own business, but for the customers we serve and interact with.”
“As we celebrate Women’s month, I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to work under and with great women leaders and colleagues. South Africa’s BPO sector gives women a real voice, more so than any other industry that I can think of. To every young woman embarking on a career in this industry, invest time and effort on your skills development, take up every training and coaching opportunity that comes your way, and position yourself to seize the opportunities coming down the line. I believe that tomorrow is still in the making, so plant good seeds today, nurture them and reap the benefits tomorrow.”